Thursday, June 2, 2011

Lewisian Apologetics for Beginners

That's either CS Lewis or Tony Soprano.

Okay, so I hate CS Lewis. I always have. I hated CS Lewis when I was 5 and my mother was so excited to share one of her favorite authors with me* and I still hate him. First of all, I don't think he was much of a writer. I think his writing was clunky at best. It's not that I dislike British authors of that era. I like Tolkein and Orwell, two of his contemporaries, but Lewis' writing is like a clumsy elephant with an inner ear infection to me.

I get allegory, I really do. I like allegory. I write allegory myself. It's a proud tradition. However, with CS Lewis, I feel like a British intellectual is beating me over the head with a Bible while shouting I. AM. A. CHRISTIAN. YOU. SHOULD. BE. ONE. TOO. Subtlety, dude. You Brits are supposed to own that shit.

Which brings me to Lewis' Christian propaganda lesser known series , the Space Trilogy. This time, Lewis does scifi! I like early scifi . The first thing I did when I received a Kindle was load HG Wells' The Time Machine. That is good stuff. But Lewis takes Martians and Venusians and, well, humans, we're sinful. And wicked. And it's our fault. Oh, and in the third book, the part of evil is played by scientists and lesbians. How . . . nice.

What struck me most about the series is in the second book, Perelandra. In this book, our hero, Ransom (yes, the name is meaningful, and no, I am not opposed to meaningful names) is sent to Venus to stop the Devil from tempting the Venusian Eve.

First of all, this is how we know Venus is the new Eden:

The rafts or floating islands are indeed Paradise, not only in the sense that they provide a pleasant and care-free life (until the arrival of Weston) but also in the sense that Ransom is for weeks and months naked in the presence of a beautiful naked woman without once lusting after her or being tempted to seduce her.

Lewis, dude, get a grip. The Chronicles of Narnia end with the preteen protagonists dying in a train crash, which is good because it means they'll never be adults and have the sexy feelings. I am not kidding you. To Lewis, desire was the ultimate evil and better to die at the age of 12 then ever feel lust. The man probably danced at the funerals of stillborn babies.

You know how I know that my health has taken a turn for the worse? I stop having any interest in sex. Even on days when I'm in too much pain for sex to be achievable, I'm still interested in it, I still fantasize about it, I still find people sexually attractive. It's only when I'm a few hours away from an ER visit that I stop having any interest in sex at all.

Admittedly, I might very well be set to high when it comes to all things lusty, but sexual desire is normal**. It is human to feel desire, to think about sex, to fantasize about sex. Christianity twists this normal human condition around until it is the greatest of evils, and the greatest of good can be characterized by its lack.

It's not really Lewis, it's Christianity. Thinking about sex with a person other than your spouse is the same as actually fucking someone other than your spouse. It's right there in the Bible. Lewis just carried the idea out to its natural, and very disturbing, conclusion.

Then there is the dramatic ending to the book, in which Ransom punches the Devil. You see, Satan is gifted with the rhetoric and spends a good portion of Perelandra attempting to convince Eve to sin. Ransom tries to win with rhetoric, but he can't. So he punches Satan instead.

Stop and think about that for a second. God's champion, a well educated Brit, couldn't win in a rhetoric contest being judged by a woman who had never even met another person besides Adam. That's like trying to convince a small child of something. My mother once not only convinced a 3 year old that she had 3 legs, she had the girl looking for her third shoe***.

Satan is trying to convince Eve that she should go ahead and sleep in the place she is forbidden from sleeping. It's the only solid land on the planet. So tell her it's covered in spiders. Tell her the truth: that sleeping on bare rock sucks and she'll wake up sore. Tell her you'll buy her a pony if she doesn't. Or, better yet, tell her what happened to the humans on Earth when their own Eve made the mistake she is contemplating.

But no, God tells Ransom to punch out the Devil. I'm not kidding you. Might makes right, apparently. Or, rather, might makes truth. If you can beat the snot out of somebody, they must be wrong about things. Obviously. That, my dears, must be pure Lewis, because I don't recall Jesus going Rambo on the Morningstar.

So the next time someone throws some Lewisian apologetics at you, ask them if they'll accept atheism if you can beat them bloody. It's a CS Lewis approved argumentation technique, after all!

*Don't tell my mom. She's a really great person and she was so excited about it, so I read every Narnia book and told her I loved them all.

**Asexuality is also totally normal for people who are asexual.

***I can't imagine where I get my sense of humor from.


  1. Well to be fair, Superman has proven to us that there is no problem that cannot be solved by punching!

  2. Actually Perelandra is even odder than that, because (1)it's not the devil, but a possessed human being; (2)Ransom doesn't just punch him, he flat out kills him, and (3)he enjoys doing it.

    Odd, odd books. Can't say I enjoyed reading them, but they certainly are different.

  3. i had the good fortune to read the Narnia books before i really knew anything at all about Christianity. it's hard to read them NOW, because yeah, they're as subtle as a moose during mating season - but they're wonderful if you DON'T REALIZE what they are.

    i've never read anything else by him.

    as for the kids dying on the train - Susan didn't die [because she "forgot Narnia a little, stopped believing, and "became the kind of young lady who wore nylons and lipstick" - and i get the impression it was the nylons and lipstick that were the REAL problems...]

    IIRC, the oldest boy was actually in his 20s, and the youngest girl was still in her later teens...

  4. I am impressed that anyone made it through That Hideous Strength. I actually liked the first book - when I didn't know much about Lewis and thought it was delightfully atheistic. Then I read Perelandra and was much disappointed. I have tried several times to finish the Trilogy and just get so bored that I can't. I still like Till We Have Faces, but I like to pretend the gods lose.

    I, too, was fortunate enough to have read the Narnia books when I was too young to be bludgeoned by the Christianity. But when I was old enough to get that part, all the parts that didn't make sense finally made sense (in that they were replicas of the parts of Christianity that don't make sense). I remember being annoyed about Aslan coming back to life because he willingly sacrificed himself. I'm all for magic and fauns (fauna?) and endless winters but the whole death reversal thing seemed impossible even in Narnia.

  5. Meg;

    the dying/resurection made total sense to me, being that i was raised pagan - i was USED to a God who gave his life every winter so that spring would come. i just accepted that part - and never quite understood how anyone, even Lewis, could take it for CHRISTIAN Allegory, when it is quite plainly PAGAN Allegory [almost ALL religions, pre-Christianity and the destruction of most of them, had this same thing - God dying on a regular basis for his people, coming back to life, born to the Goddess, inseminating the Goddess with himself, and then dying again...]


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